Complex & High Net Worth Divorce

What You Need to Know About Complex and High Net Worth Divorce and the Divorce Process in Arizona.

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Divorce can be difficult, no matter the circumstances. But if you find yourself thinking of divorce or if your spouse has told you they want a divorce, you will want to understand the process and the law.  This might be especially true if you have a business, multiple properties or a large amount of community or separate property.  We are experienced family law attorneys and we can help you. Call us today at 480-219-2433 to set up a consultation with our experienced attorney, Tali Collins,  to help answer your questions and give you specific legal advice for your situation.

Before You Start Your Divorce

Our experienced team at Best Law Firm has helped thousands of clients. We listen and we thrive on finding
effective resolutions to help your family.

5 Facts about Divorce in Arizona

  1. Dissolution
  2. Property
  3. Property Examples
  4. Spousal Maintenance
  5. Reaching Agreements

How to File For Divorce in Arizona.

What you need to know.

Frequently Asked Questions About High Net Worth Divorce

What kind of property is there in Arizona?

Two types for purposes of divorce; either community which must be split equally if acquired during the marriage or sole and separate which belongs to the person and is not subject to being split.

Does my spouse get half my business?

That depends on the date of marriage and the date your business began. Spouses may each be entitled to 50% of a business begun during the marriage. If you were married after you started the business, your spouse may have a lien for the increased value of the business during the marriage.

How do we divide the house or investment properties?

You can divide these assets in a variety of ways as long as all property acquired during the marriage is divided equally. For instance, for the marital home, one of you can buy the other’s equity and remain living in the house or you can sell the home and split the net equity.

Who pays the debts?

Debts are split 50 -50 unless the parties make some other negotiation.

How will our property be divided? (A.R.S. §28-211 & 25-318)

You and your spouse may decide this for yourselves, but is important to note that Arizona is a community property state. In accordance with Arizona Revised Statute §25-211, community property is all property acquired during the marriage by the efforts of either party through the date of service of the Petition for Dissolution. The court presumes that each spouse is entitled to 50% of the assets acquired during marriage. Also, the courts generally seek to divide debt equitably in a divorce case. This does not automatically mean that each spouse will have 50% of the debt assigned to them. The court will take into consideration the spouse’s income, ability to pay debts and issues of waste of community property assets.

My spouse and I purchased the house together but I made her sign a disclaimer deed two years later when I refinanced the house. The house is all mine, right?

Quite possibly, but while disclaimer deeds are valid, there can be suspect issues. Disclaimer deeds make it look like you were trying to cheat your spouse out of the house. A court will want to know if she was represented by counsel and how much she understood about that she was doing. And again, there is the equitable lien issue as outlined above.

I am getting ready to file for divorce. Can I take all the money out of our joint savings account?

No, because although the temporary injunction is not in place, you are intending to file and it is not fair to take all the money. You may take half of the money and this should not cause any problems in case you have to explain this to a judge.

What happens when the spouses own a business together?

During the divorce process, the court will usually attempt to keep the things the way they presently are when it comes to the day-to-day operations of a family business. A business valuation expert can assess the value of the business during the pendency of the divorce matter. The court, with the input from the business valuation expert, will determine the value of the family business. The spouse that is ultimately awarded the business may be required to pay the other spouse that individual’s share of the business. That amount is normally one-half of the value assigned to the family owned business. You should consult an attorney for this matter.

What if I paid the down payment, my spouse has lived here during our entire marriage but her name is not on the deed?

The house most likely remains your sole and separate property but your spouse has an equitable lien on the house for the community effort put into the house during the marriage that increased its value. You may want to consult an attorney.

Who pays for repairs while our house is for sale?

You can agree that the party living in it pays for everything under a certain amount such as $100. Any other repairs are split 50-50 and can be reimbursed at the sale. It might be wise to purchase a home warranty to prevent any unexpected expenses.

Is Arizona a no fault state?

Yes, it is. That means that anything such as an affair is irrelevant.

What about our retirement plans?

Anything acquired during the marriage is split 50-50. Sometimes, a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order) is required by your certain plan to split the assets.

Can you split vested and unvested stock options?

Yes, there is case law that explains this in detail.

What happens to my jewelry?

Sole and separate property is not split. Items you were gifted,  received by will or device or property you owned prior to marriage remains your sole and separate property.

What about things like a coin collection or a watch collection?

It depends on the facts. If they were purchased with money earned during the marriage, they might be considered community property.

My spouse made the down payment but after our marriage put the house deed in both names as joint tenants. Is the house community or separate property?

The house is community property and the spouse who made the down payment most likely “gifted” the property to the other spouse.

I had stocks before marriage, but bought more stock after marriage. Who gets the stocks?

The stocks you had prior to marriage are your sole and separate property. The stocks that you purchased with community funds are community property.

Is everything we own considered community property?

According to Arizona Revised Statute, section 25-211, generally anything that a married couple accumulates during the marriage is considered community property, that is, both spouses own an undivided share of the whole. Exceptions to this general principle include those assets acquired prior to the marriage, by gift, devise (by a will) or descent (inheritance). Because the Arizona courts start with a strong presumption that anything acquired during marriage is a community item, the spouse claiming a particular item is not community property has the burden of proving otherwise.

What is considered my sole and separate personal property?

Usually jewelry given, gifted to you, your sports equipment, your personal electronics, clothing, and whatever you owned prior to marriage. Also, anything you owned prior to marriage and anything you inherited is your sole and separate property.

I inherited money when my mom died six years ago and put my husband's name on the account. Is this money community or my sole and separate money?

This might be considered gifted to him and commingled with community funds. If you can trace the amount, you can have it returned to you. A fair way to handle this is to allow you to get your lump sum deposit back. If there is an issue of commingling, such as you putting other community money into the account, it is discretionary with the judge. Let’s assume that you inherited $100,000 and put it in an account and never did anything else with that account. You should be able to consider it sole and separate and it should be awarded to you.

Responding to a Petition for Divorce

What you need to know.

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What Happens After You File for Divorce in Arizona


The court typically starts by scheduling a Resolution Management Conference (RMC) where the parties and their attorneys, if they are represented, go before the court for the first time. At the RMC, the court will attempt to determine if the parties have reached any agreements.


If there are agreements, the court may have them recorded as a formal and binding agreement. The court will also determine what, if any, services and/or orders the parties need to help conclude the matter. Those services and/or orders could include drug testing of one or both parents, mental health evaluations, vocational evaluations and business evaluations.


Next, the Court will generally schedule a settlement conference with the court’s alternative dispute resolution (ADR) services. A settlement conference involves the help of a neutral mediator who attempts to help the parties resolve the remaining issues without going to trial.


Last, the court will set a trial date to hear any disputed issues; if the parties are able to settle all issues before the trial date, they can notify the Court to cancel or “vacate” the trial. If the matter does proceed to trial, the court will issue a divorce decree within 60 days of the trial.

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